Jack LaPietra, Founding Pastor
I met Jesus Christ, under duress, as a Field Artillery Officer in Vietnam in 1970. A number of my friends had already been killed over there: a fellow officer who flew with me from Pittsburgh to report to artillery school; my first roommate at artillery school (who in fact was killed his first day out in the field), my counterpart in an adjacent unit that we later relieved. I feared my turn might well come too, and I simply didn’t have much faith in the God of the Bible. With my doubts in abeyance, I asked the Lord to deliver me back to the States life and limb intact. If He did, I promised I’d postpone law school to attend seminary, study His Word, and embrace it should I find it reliable. I’d met a Christian who oriented us before we were sent in-country and who was bound for Denver Seminary. Since it was the only school I knew, I applied–and was accepted.
During a chapel service in my first week there the seminary president, Dr. Vernon Grounds, invited all of us who didn’t belong to local churches to come forward for maps to the school’s many constituent churches. My map led to a a church near the Westwood Housing Projects–in a poor, Chicano neighborhood. The Holy Spirit changed the entire course of my life in that moment. I’d never set foot into a Protestant church before. That next Wednesday night, I was thoroughly overwhelmed by the humility and love for Jesus Christ which the people there displayed. A year and a half later, I became their pastor, and three years after that, with God’s help, launched New Life in Christ Church whose mission we took from the Lord Himself in Luke Chapter 4, Verse 18: to preach the gospel to the poor and release the oppressed. So it’s been 48 years that I’ve vainly tried to out give the Lord Who already had given so much to me. The work has been its own reward.
Twenty years ago my beloved Caleen and I married and she joined me in this ministry. She’d been Teacher of the Year twice and her classrooms were beehives of self-directed young students. We quickly discovered that we both loved to give power away and our years together serving in the church have reflected that!
Mike Duran, Lead Pastor
A servant of the Lord of Heaven’s armies. I’m a pastor, preacher, teacher, a man trying to shepherd a wonderful flock, one who doesn’t lean on my own understanding, but on God’s word and the Holy Spirit. God called me to be available to what He has planned for His glory. I know I am young but like the bible says in 1 TIMOTHY 4:12 I’m to set an example for the Believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
I’m excited when I read verses like 1 Corinthians 1 27-31 “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. I’m going to keep trusting in Him to finish what He’s started in me. I am working everyday to be closer to God’s will here at New Life in Christ Church. You’ll see me just being myself, staying true to whom God has made me to be and staying true to His word. I will always worship our Lord God in spirit and in truth. I love Him so I’ll obey Him, for Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Noe' Antonio Cuevas, Pastor
New Life In Christ has been my home church even since before I knew it was my home church , and before I was saved and devoted my life to serving my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As an inner city youth and having just moved to Denver in 1995. I started going to North High School and took Up Lift as an elective. Where I met one of the Pastors at NLIC and the basketball coach for one of NLIC’s outreach programs at the time. The Young Pastor invited to join the basketball team and later to some bible studies. At the time I was a person of religion, but did not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. To this day I still talk to most of the guys from that program/team, and I am very thankful for that! With that being said. I would like to share my testimony with you in hopes that you the ‘’reader’’ may seek, find, and build a relationship with Jesus Christ.
When I graduated high school in 1998 life hit me pretty hard as I was one and/or the best runner in Denver city. But do to my immigration status I could not receive any of the scholarships offered to me, and was ending a relationship. In 2000 I was in an accident where I was rear ended and that accident left me with a deviated back in a couple of places and a lower herniated disc. That was my breaking point of being a good guy… After that? It was me against the world. “I wont go into full details on here”, but would love to share in person if you like. Now back to the story. I started walking in darkness, to say the least. I saw and did unspeakable things for years. I the mist of that darkness my grandfather came to visit from Mexico and He shared his salvation with me around the spring of 2006. At that time I couldn’t hear or wanted to hear anytime about God/Jesus. But I listen because he was my grandfather. My grandfather got saved in his mid 80’s. Still time passed and I continued on my path. One day I lost everything I had worked for, and it was at the time I was planning on stepping away from my way of life. This particular incident felt me devastated and put me at step one, and with the intentions of hurting people that I loved. As I looked in the mirror I didn’t recognize myself because of the rage I had. I cried out to God to help me and I that moment I asked if He would heal my back that I would change my life and be devoted to Him. A week passed and I was driving south bound I-25 by 38th Ave in Denver. The roads were icy and I got rear ended again. I was exiting on the right side of the highway and ended up on the left shoulder. . Only this time I got out of my car healed. As I stood in the middle of the highway at night. I felt a power so powerful that frightened me , but that also give me comfort and peace. I knew it was Him. A few months passed and I was working a regular job and thinking of what I had told God. When out of the blue my old coach gave me a call, because he knew I talked to a friend he needed for a house project. But I knew who was really calling. I asked him if his dad (Pastor Jack) was still the pastor. He replied “yes”. I told him that I believe God wants me to go there (NLIC). I showed up spiritually broken and confused. As I sat by myself week after week Pastor Jack preached, and little by little my spirit and my soul became stronger. I was giving life through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit working through Pastor Jack again!
I am blessed and unconditionally loved beyond measure! Thanks be to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and Dr. Jack LaPietra who has for over 45 years has carried out the Lord’s work in the inner city. In which I have the honor to call my spiritual Dad. As for me? I will do my best through Christ to carry the message of the good news. “to preach the gospel to the poor…to release the oppressed” (Luke 4:18), “…that…they may see (our) good deeds and glorify God…” (1 Peter 2:12).
Pastor Noe’ Antonio Cuevas
Gail Barron, Executive Director, Zócalo Outreach
Gail Barron was born and raised in North Denver, Colorado. Gail began going to New Life in Christ Church as an infant over 30 years ago. Through her walk with Jesus, Gail has seen a need within her communities’ youth, to fulfill their dreams. Gail is a compassionate leader; her mission is to uplift those in her community who may not have the opportunity to achieve their highest potential otherwise.
As a child from a low-income, inner city up brining, Gail has an understanding of some of the challenges the youth face today. Gail was able to break the cycle of disenfranchisement by attending Metropolitan State University, graduating with a degree in Social Work. Gail Is also the Executive Director of Zócalo Outreach, there, Gail can continue to use her gifts and opportunities she has been blessed with to continue to work with and uplift youth. Gail is also a wife and mother, in her free time she enjoys baking and crafting (especially with her son).